Pride-ful Unity or Rainbow Dis-Connection?


Right about this time of year the word “pride” takes on a specially focused meaning as folks representing all colors and stripes get their gay on. For some it’s about parades and feathers and floats. For some it’s about marches and protest. For me the last several years have been about taking a closer look at the rainbow dis-connection.

As a “community” LGBTfolks haven’t been altogether coordinated when it comes to addressing issues facing our group as a whole. No disrespect meant to organizations that have fought the good fight over the years – from NCLRand EQCAto HRC – but their focus is not grassroots organizing and community outreach. Those things are part of their work, but their core competancy cants to the legal side of things. Great when problems hit and we need to go to court, but not exactly the alliance outreach necessary to change hearts and minds. It also is limited to blame these organizations for the greater failure of the LGBTcommunity to pull together. Most groups, regardless of internal issues, can and often do circle the wagons when presented by a common enemy. Though there have been moments in LGBT history – including the Stonewall riots – when the community has done this; historically our people haven’t been very well synchronized when it comes to showing a unified front.

History is changing.

When Proposition 8 passed, being a glass half full sort of gal, I dug around trying to find the silver lining and Ifound the beginning of a strong fabric weaving through the digital threads of social media. The old guard players all of which already had blogs were engaging with social networks. The Courage Campaign launched Camp Courage, two-day training camps part of which focused on how to better utilize technology to organize, mobilize and extend grassroots outreach. Then there were the newcomers, an avalanche of activists like Robin McGehee and Kip Williams who used social media to mobilize thousands for the Meet in the Middle rally and the following march in Washington and now through GetEqual are taking direct action and mobilizing other activists.

Do Iagree with some of the things they’re doing? Not necessarily, and that’s where the silver lining turns into a rainbow tapestry. Thanks to social media, I have a window into learning what other groups are doing, about their perspectives, their opinions and their plans. Does that mean I agree with and participate in them all? No. Just as I do not accept all friend requests and block some people on Twitter, so too Ihave the ability to filter and sort until Ifind the things that resonate for me. At the same time by keeping an eye on how other parts of the community are tackling our collective fight for equality, Igain understanding and in doing so, can remove the other-ness of those whose stripe of the rainbow may not be the same as mine.

So as you look to the nearest rainbow flag this Pride, consider the words of Abraham Lincoln, uttered on a June day in 1858 … a house divided against itself cannot stand.

About The Author

What began for me as a career telling other people’s stories has evolved into a journey of helping others tell their stories for themselves. I'm a “classically trained” Journalist whose passion for communications began with my first job ripping wire copy in 1982 and has evolved to encompass nearly every platform and aspect of media – from reporting and editing to broadcast management, talent casting and guest booking. I've also curated content for several of the tech industry’s leading conferences. It was after finding myself engaged as an activist for LGBT equal rights that I began to explore the way in which personal stories inform and influence people’s everyday lives and I began using my tech background to teach people to make these connections of personal stories, using new technologies as the medium. Presently I run my own consulting firm in San Francisco, working with companies and individuals helping them navigate the crowded waterways of new technologies with the express purpose of leveraging these rapidly evolving platforms to tell their stories. Through workshops, seminars and strategic consulting services, I walk clients through the story-telling process and towards the kind of deep engagement that comes from truly authentic communication.

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